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Losing a Child: Always Andy's Mom

As a pediatrician, married mom of three biological children and one foster son, my life was busy, rushing off to my office four days a week, seeing patients for three and working as a medical director of a local physician organization for one. I balanced this with rushing off to shuttle my kids to after sports and other after school activities. All of this changed one day in August of 2018 when my 14 year old son, Andy, was killed in a car accident. I felt like my life was over, and in some ways it was over, and a new life was forced to begin in its place. 

Grief is seldom discussed openly in our culture, and the death of a child makes people feel even more uncomfortable. On this blog and podcast, ‘Losing a Child: Always Andy’s Mom’, the topic is approached openly and honestly, speaking to people who have lost loved ones and experts who help care for them. Whether you are a parent experiencing loss or someone who wants to support another going through this tragedy, this blog and podcast strives to offer hope and help.

Aug 17, 2023

Five years later. There aren't words to describe the heaviness of this day. I got an email from my father-in-law saying that he felt like their lives ended when they received the phone call that night. I couldn't agree more. The family we are now is not the one we were 5 years ago. From the outside, we may look the same. We still go up north to the cottage, go tubing in the boat, and eat Grandpa's famous ribs, but we aren't the same. There is a hole there that people don't want to acknowledge. I often fear that Eric and I are the only ones who miss Andy, and then I get an email like that.

As I was 'preparing' for this horrible anniversary day last week, I told my therapist I was scared to invite other people to an event because I was afraid that no one would come. That very night, however, I was texted a picture proving that people outside our family miss Andy, too. The family of Andy's best friend, Joni, was at a Chelsea soccer game in Chicago, and Joni and his family were holding a huge sign which read, 'Rooting for our team, Andy.' They remembered and made a point to take Andy with them on a trip to see that team that Joni and Andy loved to cheer on together. Joni told me that they felt him there with them all night.

Ultimately, what I decided to do to honor Andy Tuesday was to have a Livestream with Eric and Gwen to talk about the day and share stories about Andy. I asked others to come on and watch and share a memory, but knew that if no one came, it would not really hurt as much as having an event with no one there. After the Livestream, I announced that we would go to the cemetery, but I had low expectations that anyone would come. I felt like I just needed to end my days there with Andy, getting a few hugs from people who loved him.

I was actually shocked, but more than 25 people came to give us hugs. I likely got more than 50 hugs and my heart felt just a little less heavy. These days are incredibly hard, but surrounding yourselves with people who love you can make it just a little easier. I'm just glad that I was brave enough to ask.